Beer Style Wars: Belgian Golden Ales

23 Mar

Last night I sat down with a pile of laundry and two Belgian style Golden Ales: Golden Age by Iron Fist Brewing and Damnation from Russian River Brewing Company. That sounds an awful lot like a Beer Style War! Lets get started!

 Appearance: The Damnation came out a dark wheat color, with a little bit of a haze the head was light and didn’t stick around for very long. There were also a lot of bubbles continuing to rise for most of the time it was in the glass. The Golden Age had a darker amber color and was quite a bit hazier. It had a much foamier head, and at first I wondered if it had a bit of over carbonation as there was foam coming out of the bottle while I was pouring the Damnation, it settled down relatively quickly and I got a nice pour out of it. The BJCP guidelines say they should be “Yellow to medium gold in color. Good clarity. Effervescent. Massive, long-lasting, rocky, often beady, white head resulting in characteristic “Belgian lace” on the glass as it fades.” Damnation hit it in color and effervescence, and Golden Age took it home with the head.

 Aroma: I started with the Damnation and it has a very mild aroma, at first it was a little on the perfumy and I picked up some of the booze. It did have a bit of a peppery hop aroma as well. The Golden Age could not have been more different. It was very sweet at first; the initial thought I had was, “Cotton Candy!” and then got to sweet fruity aromas. I picked out a citrusy lemony aroma, but not bitter, more like a lemon candy smell.

 Taste: Going off of the aromas I was really intrigued on what I would taste. Again, Damnation was first. I got some earthy and spicy hop flavor; it also had a lemony and orange taste in there. After going to Golden Age and coming back to Damnation, I got a bit more of the malt character; it came out a little biscuit like but very soft. Golden Age had a lot going on, as the aroma would suggest. My first sip I got a big spice taste- I want to say oregano. Then the flavor mellowed out a bit and got a little bitter and lemony, at the end I was most surprised by the really sweet strawberry taste that came through. BJCP guidelines say, “Marriage of fruity, spicy and alcohol flavors supported by a soft malt character. Esters are reminiscent of pears, oranges or apples. Low to moderate phenols are peppery in character. A low to moderate spicy hop character is often present. Alcohols are soft, spicy, and often a bit sweet and are low-to-moderate in intensity. Bitterness is typically medium to high.” I’d say they both fit right in there.

 Overall: These were two very different representations of one style, the Golden Age was much sweeter and had a lot of taste complexities going on while the Damnation was what I call more savory with the spices and earthiness of the hops. I’d recommend either to anyone, although personally I think I preferred the drinkability of the Damnation, and I always like the feel of bubbles on my tongue.

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